Pointers for international customer visits

26 Mar 2007 - 1:18pm
7 years ago
4 replies
621 reads
Pam Migliore
2006

Greetings -

I'm looking to the group for advice, warnings and best wishes...details
below.

Next week, I am embarking on a 4-week world tour to visit customers (and
potential customers) in the US, Asia (India & China) and Europe (Turkey,
Poland, France, UK and Germany.) While originally slated as a market
research trip concerning concepts for a new product, I have worked my way on
to the agenda in order to conduct user research and collect feedback to
early concepts for the user interface and industrial design.

We have a lot of different tasks we are trying to accomplish at each site
(contextual inquiry, GUI & Industrial design concept review, Icon usability
study plus all the product marketing activities.) I'm sure we are biting off
more than we'll be able to chew, but we are looking to make the most of this
trip as we aren't sure when we'll get the funding to do something similar in
the future. Also, we have a lot of visibility to our senior management to
see how this exercise goes (this is the first time that I am aware of that a
UI/UX person has had access to customers in countries other than US or
limited Europe.)

I think I've got all of my ducks in a row as far as discussion guides,
prototypes, surveys, etc., but am looking for advice from anyone who has
taken on a similar exercise. In particular, I'd appreciate any warnings or
war stories of things that worked well and things to avoid. I'm based out
of the US but have facilitated usability tests in Western Europe before for
a different company and have traveled to India for other business reasons,
but I have never interfaced with end users in most of these countries. Are
there any cultural "gotchas" I should be aware of/be sensitive to? Or
anything else that may prepare me for a successful trip?

Thanks in advance for your help!
--
Pamela Migliore

Comments

26 Mar 2007 - 2:06pm
.pauric
2006

Hi Pam, a little out of leftfield.. your company should have a policy on
giving and receiving 'gifts' in foreign countries. While this document is
aimed at the sales force it should give you some indication on which
cultures might expect a little gift for participation in testing. Even if
its just an invite out to a meal, its worth following local
expectations/customs.

The contextual testing I did in China a few years back was viewed with
bemusement. The local 'real' users did not speak English and my helper, who
was involved in the engineering side of the design, was not able to just
observe and the results were quite useless. If time is tight and people are
watching, you might have to curtail some of the more exotic techniques. I
would say to do as much testing/inquiry as you would normally expect to do
in an average 4 week period, dont cram too much in.

Good luck and drink bottled water (o;

On 3/26/07, Pam Migliore <pammigliore at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Greetings -
>
> I'm looking to the group for advice, warnings and best wishes...details
> below.
>
> Next week, I am embarking on a 4-week world tour to visit customers (and
> potential customers) in the US, Asia (India & China) and Europe (Turkey,
> Poland, France, UK and Germany.) While originally slated as a market
> research trip concerning concepts for a new product, I have worked my way
> on
> to the agenda in order to conduct user research and collect feedback to
> early concepts for the user interface and industrial design.
>
> We have a lot of different tasks we are trying to accomplish at each site
> (contextual inquiry, GUI & Industrial design concept review, Icon
> usability
> study plus all the product marketing activities.) I'm sure we are biting
> off
> more than we'll be able to chew, but we are looking to make the most of
> this
> trip as we aren't sure when we'll get the funding to do something similar
> in
> the future. Also, we have a lot of visibility to our senior management to
> see how this exercise goes (this is the first time that I am aware of that
> a
> UI/UX person has had access to customers in countries other than US or
> limited Europe.)
>
> I think I've got all of my ducks in a row as far as discussion guides,
> prototypes, surveys, etc., but am looking for advice from anyone who has
> taken on a similar exercise. In particular, I'd appreciate any warnings
> or
> war stories of things that worked well and things to avoid. I'm based out
> of the US but have facilitated usability tests in Western Europe before
> for
> a different company and have traveled to India for other business reasons,
> but I have never interfaced with end users in most of these
> countries. Are
> there any cultural "gotchas" I should be aware of/be sensitive to? Or
> anything else that may prepare me for a successful trip?
>
> Thanks in advance for your help!
> --
> Pamela Migliore
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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>

27 Mar 2007 - 3:58am
Brian Heumann
2007

Hi Pam,

I assume that you use local staff or translators? In this case you
should expect that communication starts to look a bit like the game
of "Chinese Whispers". And this will slow down the schedule and you
might end up with less feedback or tests than usual.

To minimize this effect you should consider a pilot test to get you
and your local colleagues communicating more efficiently and with
little loss of information. You should also point out which things
you look for, the local colleague might then better catch nuances or
situations which might otherwise be ignored.

Another trick is to try back translation of your questionnaires: have
your questionnaire translated into the foreign language and then back
again into your own language. If they differ too much you should
consider either simplifying the questions for easier translation or
increasing translation quality (e.g. editing/reviews/local
translation etc.) You could combine your back translation with the
results of your pilot tests, too.

While you might meet many people in Germany or France who speak
English, be aware that English is not their preferred language. As
for the Germans (being half German and half Irish): I know that some
British colleagues have had problems with their German colleagues,
because they communicate very directly, almost bluntly and may come
across as unpolite and curt (even when they speak English). I can
reassure you that most Germans are just straightforward and not
nasty... UK, of course should be no problem for you. I don't know
what it is like in Poland.

I have a copy of Nielsen and del Gado "Internation User Interfaces",
1996. It is a bit outdated, but contains a good, practical chapter
about doing usability tests abroad. If you are interested in cultural
differences, Geert Hofstede's "Cultures and Organizations" is a very
good starting point as well as Singh & Perreira's "The Culturally
Customized Website". Also see my presentation on this: http://
thinkregion.com/presentations/March-2007-
UsabilityAndInternationalization.pdf

I wish you a good trip and all the best for your work !
Cheers from Germany,
Brian.

-------------------------------------------------
Brian Heumann
Tannenbergstrasse 15
71032 Böblingen
Germany

Tel. 07031 288205
Email: brian.heumann at gmx.de

On 26.03.2007, at 20:18, Pam Migliore wrote:

> Greetings -
>
> I'm looking to the group for advice, warnings and best
> wishes...details
> below.
>
> Next week, I am embarking on a 4-week world tour to visit customers
> (and
> potential customers) in the US, Asia (India & China) and Europe
> (Turkey,
> Poland, France, UK and Germany.) While originally slated as a market
> research trip concerning concepts for a new product, I have worked
> my way on
> to the agenda in order to conduct user research and collect
> feedback to
> early concepts for the user interface and industrial design.
>
> We have a lot of different tasks we are trying to accomplish at
> each site
> (contextual inquiry, GUI & Industrial design concept review, Icon
> usability
> study plus all the product marketing activities.) I'm sure we are
> biting off
> more than we'll be able to chew, but we are looking to make the
> most of this
> trip as we aren't sure when we'll get the funding to do something
> similar in
> the future. Also, we have a lot of visibility to our senior
> management to
> see how this exercise goes (this is the first time that I am aware
> of that a
> UI/UX person has had access to customers in countries other than US or
> limited Europe.)
>
> I think I've got all of my ducks in a row as far as discussion guides,
> prototypes, surveys, etc., but am looking for advice from anyone
> who has
> taken on a similar exercise. In particular, I'd appreciate any
> warnings or
> war stories of things that worked well and things to avoid. I'm
> based out
> of the US but have facilitated usability tests in Western Europe
> before for
> a different company and have traveled to India for other business
> reasons,
> but I have never interfaced with end users in most of these
> countries. Are
> there any cultural "gotchas" I should be aware of/be sensitive to? Or
> anything else that may prepare me for a successful trip?
>
> Thanks in advance for your help!
> --
> Pamela Migliore
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

27 Mar 2007 - 4:17am
carl myhill
2006

Hi Pamela

That does sound like an ambituous and fun trip. I don't think you'll have
cultural problems, just a fun exploration.

One problem I guess you might have though is with managers. If, as you
imply, your company hasn't got out much, or at least has not let UI people
out much, your customers might be rather curious to see the visitors from
the mother ship. Of course the senior people there might be the most
curious, and influential and have a lot of their own things to talk about
which can take up ALL of the time. Well, that's what happens to us when the
mother ship lands. We've taken to having an agenda with a parallel stream. A
short kick-off with everyone and then divide into 2 groups. Ideally we have
a marketing person or manager sitting down with senior representatives from
the customer to discuss their vision and strategic direction. Whilst, group
B, trundles off to do some real work with the users (without their managers
breathing down their necks).

So, that's our broad approach. It never quite works like that but it works
roughly like that. We are quite opportunistic too. From a recent trip to
investigate a fairly complex domain we found taking loads of digital photos
helped our subsequent analysis. At the time I thought we were going mad and
taking too many but in hindsight, there are lots of clues there. We
photographed screens, work artefacts, crib sheets and all kinds of things.

One thing I found by chance last time out is that it helps to have a bit of
space of your own at the customer site to compare notes while you are there.
So, last time I was on a visit i was investigating a complex workflow with
people unfamilar with talking about formal workflow. I went back to my
temporary desk and pieced it together and drew a flowchart and showed them
it to confirm my understanding. It made analysing the notes a lot easier.

Have a blast! Can I come along?

Carl

PS Having a stash of business cards is helpful. If you dont understand
foreign names on hearing them, by handing everyone a card you get to see it
in written form.

1 Apr 2007 - 9:46am
dszuc
2005

Hi Pamela:

This may interest -

Chinese Home Site Visits - Tips & Hints -
http://www.apogeehk.com/articles/tips_for_chinese_home_visits.html

Rgds,

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
Apogee Usability Asia Ltd
www.apogeehk.com
'Usability in Asia'

The Usability Toolkit - http://www.sitepoint.com/books/usability1/

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Pam
Migliore
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 2:18 AM
To: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Pointers for international customer visits

Greetings -

I'm looking to the group for advice, warnings and best wishes...details
below.

Next week, I am embarking on a 4-week world tour to visit customers (and
potential customers) in the US, Asia (India & China) and Europe (Turkey,
Poland, France, UK and Germany.) While originally slated as a market
research trip concerning concepts for a new product, I have worked my way on
to the agenda in order to conduct user research and collect feedback to
early concepts for the user interface and industrial design.

We have a lot of different tasks we are trying to accomplish at each site
(contextual inquiry, GUI & Industrial design concept review, Icon usability
study plus all the product marketing activities.) I'm sure we are biting off
more than we'll be able to chew, but we are looking to make the most of this
trip as we aren't sure when we'll get the funding to do something similar in
the future. Also, we have a lot of visibility to our senior management to
see how this exercise goes (this is the first time that I am aware of that a
UI/UX person has had access to customers in countries other than US or
limited Europe.)

I think I've got all of my ducks in a row as far as discussion guides,
prototypes, surveys, etc., but am looking for advice from anyone who has
taken on a similar exercise. In particular, I'd appreciate any warnings or
war stories of things that worked well and things to avoid. I'm based out
of the US but have facilitated usability tests in Western Europe before for
a different company and have traveled to India for other business reasons,
but I have never interfaced with end users in most of these countries. Are
there any cultural "gotchas" I should be aware of/be sensitive to? Or
anything else that may prepare me for a successful trip?

Thanks in advance for your help!
--
Pamela Migliore
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription
Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

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